Okinawa and central government remain separate over US base relocation plan

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Okinawa prefecture and the central government remained separated during a meeting on Saturday over plans to relocate a US military base within the prefecture.

In his first meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki called for an immediate halt to work to move the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Base to Ginowan in the district. coast from Henoko to Nago.

The relocation “will not lead to the elimination of the danger” linked to the base, Tamaki told Matsuno at the prefectural government office in Naha.

Matsuno, also minister of measures to reduce the impact of US military bases on Okinawa, reiterated the central government’s view that the current relocation plan is “the only solution” to the Futenma problem.

Matsuno was on his first visit to Okinawa since taking office as Cabinet Secretary-General last month.

“Steady progress in the works will lead to the achievement of the complete return of the land of Futenma in the shortest possible time and the removal of the danger,” Matsuno said.

“We will do everything possible to reduce the burden and promote the economy while building a relationship of trust with the local people through careful explanations,” he added, explaining the policy of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the importance of dialogue.

Tamaki said it would take more than 10 years to complete the relocation.

He called on the central government to guarantee at least 300 billion yen in promotional spending in Okinawa for fiscal year 2022, up from 299.8 billion yen requested in a budget request this summer.

At the meeting, the two sides expressed their respective views, Tamaki said, adding that he had high expectations for future progress through dialogue.

When asked if the resettlement issue affects central government decisions on Okinawa promotion spending, Matsuno told reporters that the two things are being treated together although they are not directly related.

Prior to meeting Tamaki, Matsuno met with the mayor of Nago Taketoyo Toguchi and leaders of Henoko and neighboring districts of Nago at a hotel in Naha.

In Ginowan, Matsuno held talks with local residents. A resident complained about the noise from the Futenma base caused by night flights. Matsuno responded that the complaint will be reflected in discussions on the Futenma issue.

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